McCarthy says joined-up approach needed to prevent suicide

Alliance Health Spokesperson Kieran McCarthy MLA has said that the Executive needs to end the silo mentality that prevails in government departments if it is to effectively tackle suicide. He spoke in the Assembly today on a motion on preventing suicide and self-harm.

Kieran McCarthy MLA stated: “We need to see action on a joined-up approach to preventing suicide. I would strongly welcome a timeframe indicating the action that will be taken by the Executive.

“One of the reasons suicide and self-harm presents such difficulty to tackle is that there are so many aspects to the issue. No one case is the same. There is no typical victim. For every high-profile case or set of high-profile cases – such as the recent series of suicides in Armagh, and again in South Wales – there are cases we never hear about. They can occur anywhere, to anyone, in any circumstance, sometimes without any apparent warning.

“Two matters are particularly important. Firstly, Executive action has to be properly directed – there is no room for competition between departments or the usual ‘silo mentality’ which denies us joined-up government. As the motion correctly implies, this issue is not just an issue for the Department of Health, but for every department.

“Secondly, we must immediately end the ‘tick box’ mentality which all too often inhibits access to funding for groups which work directly with communities to help prevent suicide and self-harm. This is not a matter to be determined by whether a form is properly filled in or not. It is a human interest issue which requires human management. Where an organization is doing a good job, continued funding and resourcing must be assured – even where this means the Executive taking on extra commitments.

“This issue is also linked to the Bamford Review. The Health Minister must outline precisely where he is with that review. He should also set out a timescale for action on Bamford alongside the timeframe for action on self-harm and suicide prevention.”


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